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article imageDirector Chris Hicky seeks your help to make 'The Grace of Jake' Special

By Kay Mathews     Jul 8, 2013 in Entertainment
Los Angeles - Grammy nominated music video director Chris Hicky, who has worked with Keith Urban and others, is set to make his first feature-length independent film and he needs your help to do so. Fundraising efforts are underway in order to make The Grace of Jake.
In a testiment to the grassroots efforts being undertaken to make The Grace of Jake, I first became aware of the film through a Facebook friend, Byron Lloyd, who contacted me and wrote, "It's a film about racial harmony, music, redemption, and spirituality." Lloyd, the location scout for the film, also sent the link to the "Help us make THE GRACE OF JAKE" Kickstarter page.
It was there that I learned more about director Chris Hicky and the independent film project. Hicky, an Arkansas native, is a writer/director who currently lives in Los Angeles, California. His client list includes Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban. In 2010, Hicky's work with Urban garnered a Grammy nomination in the category of "Best Long Form Music Video" for: Keith Urban: Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy World Tour (2008). In addition, Hicky won the Academy of Country Music’s Video of the Year award for Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar.”
As the Kickstarter site notes, "Chris has been directing for over a decade now and feels it is time to devote his talents to his true love- feature length films. The Grace of Jake is his passion project. He’s been working on the script for years now, has directed a few short films along the way (along with dozens of music and commercial projects), and feels that the time is right for The Grace of Jake."
Delta Sunset
Delta Sunset
Courtesy of Chris Hicky
The film will take director Chris Hicky back home to the Arkansas delta, and, appropriately, actor, singer, and songwriter Jake La Botz will play the starring role of "Jake Hayes" in The Grace of Jake. A number of familiar names have also signed-on to be in the cast of The Grace of Jake. Roy Lee Jones, Chris Bauer, whom many of you will recognize as "Andy Bellefleur," his character on the True Blood TV series, and, most recently added to the cast, American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who starred in Sparkle.
Intrigued by what I read on Kickstarter, I asked Byron Lloyd if an email interview with director Chris Hicky could be arranged and it was. What follows is the Q&A from that interview.
The Kickstarter site says you've been "working on the script for years now" and that you are "passionate about this story." Can you expand on what you wrote for the Kickstarter site and tell readers more about why this script and story are so important to you personally?
The Grace of Jake is more than just a movie for me. It's a rights of passage. It's the culmination of every great book, great song, great story, great relationship, every great movie, every great photograph that I have ever had the privilege of being in the presence of. It's a movie about where I grew up. It's a story about people I grew up around. The plot itself is in no way auto-biographical, but the environment is. Being that this will be my feature debut, this movie is my ticket into the career I have dreamed about since I was a young boy. Taking an audience into a theater, giving them an hour and a half to "escape" into another world, leaving them with that sense that all is good- that is the goal. That is the reason I want to make movies!
Director Chris Hicky at work on a Keith Urban music video.
Director Chris Hicky at work on a Keith Urban music video.
Courtesy of Chris Hicky
Like you, I'm from Arkansas and a number of my readers are from Arkansas...tell us a little about where you plan to film in Arkansas? Why it's important, if it is, to have locals be extras or play small credited roles in the film?
We will be filming in and around Forrest City, which is where I am from. A lot of the smaller towns in that area will also be a key part of the movie, Mariana, Palestine, Haynes, Wynne, etc. It's very important of for me to bring this movie home first and foremost because that is where the "story" happens. I'm a realist filmmaker at heart. I love the grit and texture of shooting in "real" places. Some movies are shot on location, others in studios. The Grace of Jake is definitely an "on-location" kind of movie.
I'm very proud of where I grew up. Arkansas, north-east Arkansas in particular, is very responsible for the way I see the world. Having grown up in and around the Arkansas delta, my sense of environment is based in that experience. I love saying I am from Arkansas. To me it's God's country :) Coming home with this film is important not only for me, but also for the people I grew up with. My family, my friends, my community- making this movie together and amidst this is my way of coming full circle to where it all began. The support and love we have felt from fellow Arkansans has been overwhelming. So many people have reached out both with their wallets and their hearts. We could not be more excited about getting out of Hollywood and coming home to make this movie!!
I noticed that Jordin Sparks was recently added to the cast! Talk about that...how did you land Sparks for the role? Why do you think it appealed to her?
Jordin Sparks
Jordin Sparks
Courtesy of Chris Hicky
We are super thrilled to have Jordin Sparks on board. I was working with her agent Erin Culley at CAA, and Erin was one of the first agents to read the script and respond to the material. From day one she was not only a fan of the script, but she was instrumental in getting the script to Jordin. It was her idea, I wish I could take credit for it. Jordin read the script, fell in love with it, and she and I sat down to meet. We both were like giddy school children. She wanting the part, and me wanting her for the part. We hit it off instantly, I knew she was perfect for the role. We agreed right then and there we were going to work together, and our cast is now that much stronger.
As far as why the project appealed to Jordin, I think it was the fact that the character is a unique voice. I tried to stay away from any and all "typical" character types when writing this script. I wanted these people of this movie to feel real and organic and at the same time fresh and original. It was important to me that this story and the characters in it not feel like other characters we have seen in movies before. I think the originality of it was enticing to her. Also the music of the movie- there is a lot of music involved in the story. The lead character, Jake Hayes, is a wayward musician and it is throughout a small gospel church that he finds his way. Jordin, being the amazing musician she is, was drawn to the way the script brought music into the fray as part of the narrative. Our soundtrack is a vital part of story, the music and dialogue are blended together in a way that makes this a musical story!
Finally, I asked Hicky to share other insights about the film that he wanted readers to know.
We need your help to get this movie made. Small stories like this fall through the cracks of Hollywood. Thanks to crowd source funding like Kickstarter there is a new supporter of the arts! The cool thing about this type of fundraising is that you become a part of the movie. By pledging and choosing a reward category you join our "family" and are with us through the entire process. Take a look at our Kickstarter page, watch our video, read about our movie. This is truly a movie that deserves to get made, and you deserve to see it!
Cropdusting in Arkansas.
Cropdusting in Arkansas.
Courtesy of Chris Hicky
Chris Hicky also reminded me that, as of July 8, "We only have 9 days left on our Kickstarter campaign. And if we do not reach our funding goal then we get nothing. People are not billed until we reach our funding goal. So until then it is just a pledge, once we pass our goal, then it becomes an official contribution!"
To learn more about the story behind The Grace of Jake, director Chris Hicky, and star Jake La Botz, play the video above. And, to learn more about how you can help make The Grace of Jake, visit the "Help us make THE GRACE OF JAKE" Kickstarter page.
More about chris hicky, the grace of jake, Independent film, Jordin sparks, Jake La Botz
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